Time to Wok to Chineses Cooking  
By Dian Thomas

This year when I learned that I would have the opportunity to go to China for a month to lead tours, I knew it would be a special experience because this was the year that the Olympics are in China, When I have been watching TV and seeing places that I visited, it is as if I am there again. I have also been watching to get some new ideas of places that I would like to visit when I return.

One of my favorite parts of my China experience was meeting the wonderful people. Even though I did not speak their language, I loved meeting them and talking in the universal sign language of pointing, smiling, and gesturing.

Just as I was leaving for China, I got a call from Dean Paynter, the creator and executive producer on a new local morning magazine show on KJazz TV which is channel 14. He wanted to know if I could come on the show and do some segments. I told him that I would love to and that I was going to China and would like to bring back some ideas that I could share during the Olympics. For the month that I was in China , I was busy gathering ideas, photos and information for Meridian Magazine and KJazz TV.

As the date that I was to be on TV neared, I knew I should go and check out the Oriental Food Market in Salt Lake . I asked a good friend, Barbara Dahl, who had lived in Taiwan , if she would like to go with me. The first aisle that we came upon was the oriental vegetables. There was a Chinese lady with her daughter right behind me.

I have always maintained that you can learn about the world in your own city, if you talk to the people you meet from other countries. Using my own advice, I asked her, “Are you from China ?.” She answered, “I am from Beijing .” I said, “You must be really proud of your people and your country.” She had a big smile and a glow as she said, “Yes”.

I then asked her about the vegetables in the store which I had not seen in my local store. I also shared with her that I was doing a TV segment and wanted to learn as much as I could about Chinese culture and food.

She had that same wonderful spirit that I had enjoyed from the people I met in China . I found her to be very open, genuine, and willing to help me by sharing her knowledge. Before I knew it, she invited my friend and me to dinner with her family Saturday night. I then asked her if she would come with me to the TV show and share her culture and Chinese recipes. I could only think how blessed I was to have such a wonderful opportunity.

We arrived at her home, greeted by her two lovely children and husband. We soon learned that Eric, Annie, and Claire were their mother's greatest supporters and helpers. My favorite was when Annie said that she wanted to go away to the university but wanted to live close enough that she could come home to dinner every night. We soon knew why. Jun began to cook her wonderful Chinese dishes.

We learned that the wok for Chinese is the main pot they use to cook. In it you can fry, boil, and steam. When I was in China , I did not eat bread or desserts. The only bread that I saw was steam buns with pork barbeque in it, and the dessert that I enjoyed at the end of each meal was a slice of watermelon. The Chinese people do not have ovens and so the wok has been their way to delicious healthy meals.

Jun told us that they had soup for every meal, even when it is hot in the summer. It was fun to learn that when her children ask her what's for dinner, it means what kind of soup are we having tonight. Jun is a scientist at the Research Park near the University of Utah . She said that there are four things that the Chinese look at when they cook. First is color, then smell, taste, and appearance.

Their evening meal usually consists of three vegetables and a hot soup. Meat can and does often find its way into the vegetable dishes and sometimes into the soup. Tofu is also used often in the Chinese meal.

Here are the dishes that she prepared for our delicious and nutritious dinner.

Fried Rice


3 cups of steamed rice
Half pound of frozen vegetable mix, thaw ahead
A dozen peeled raw shrimp (or any meat you prefer such as chopped chicken, pork…. Or no meat at all)
1 or 2 eggs
2 tablespoons of cooking oil
1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
1 teaspoon of sugar
A few drops of sesame oil (not a must)
Salt to taste
Cooking time: A few minutes

Procedure: use medium high heat

Cook the rice ahead. Scramble the eggs with 1 tablespoon of oil; move it out of the pan for later use. Heat up 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, stir fry the shrimp until they turn red; add the vegetable mix, add the cooked egg, stir well with the salt, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Stop the heat if the rice is hot. Add the rice, mix well and serve. If the rice is cool, keep the heat on while mixing. Warning: Do not over cook.

Serves 4

Tomato soup


1/2 cup of chicken broth (no MSG, low sodium type)
3 cups of water
2 medium sized tomatoes
A few heads of cilantro (chopped or whole)
1 egg
1 teaspoon of light soy sauce
A few drops of sesame oil (not a must)
Salt to taste
Cooking time: A few minutes


Heat the chicken broth and water in a pot to boil. Add the sliced tomatoes in; right after it boils again, slowly add the beaten egg while stirring; add the cilantro, mix with the salt, soy sauce, and sesame oil. When it comes back to boiling, stop and serve. Warning: Do no over cook.

Serves 4

As you can see we had a wonderful evening. As we left, Jun shared with us some of the achievement of her two daughters. She said that culture in Utah was one of the key reasons they stay here. One of her favorite LDS sayings is: Families, it's about time.


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